Guarantee Yoon’s tenureThe government and ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s attempt to oust Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl has reached a point of no return. Despite the fact that his two-year tenure is guaranteed by law, the DP is relentlessly trying to push him out.
On Thursday, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae sent Yoon a document demanding he stop a deliberation process on a case involving an alleged collusion between a prosecutor and a journalist. She took action just a day after threatening to make a decision depending on how Yoon reacted. She has exercised the right to directly command investigations by prosecutors for only the second time in history. Then she ordered an investigation team in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to probe the case without getting instructions from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and report only the final results of its investigation to Prosecutor General Yoon. Her order is exactly the same as what the lower prosecutors’ office requested a day before.
Choo based her decision on Article 8 of the Prosecution Office Act, which allows a justice minister to command a prosecutor general on concrete cases. Actually, the article was created to prevent a justice minister from putting unnecessary pressure on the top prosecutor. But Choo’s order reflects her strong determination to get Yoon out of his office. A senior member of the DP sarcastically said, “Yoon’s end is in sight whatever decision he makes.”
Even before Choo’s pressure, the DP was tirelessly putting pressure on Yoon to force him out. When he appointed Yoon as prosecutor general last year, President Moon Jae-in urged him to thoroughly investigate the Blue House, government and politicians beyond their party lines. However, after Yoon launched investigations into the ruling party, DP lawmakers urged him to “resign to protect the reputation of the top law enforcement agency.”
The Prosecution Office Law specifies a two-year tenure for a prosecutor general and bans a renewal of the term to guarantee the independence of prosecutors. Former Presidents Kim Yong-sam and Kim Dae-jung did not fire top prosecutors even when they arrested their sons. Giving a certificate of appointment to Yoon, Moon asked him to thoroughly investigate corruption of government officials to create a healthier society. If Moon still believes what he himself said, he must help Yoon finish his term.